Tips & Advice - Giving up a dummy

It is your decision as a parent to decide on the right time for your child’s dummy to go .

Sometimes a child decides to give up their dummy by themselves but most often, parents are the ones who decide. Try not to feel rushed or pressured by the reactions of family, other children or even strangers.

Your child is probably very attached to their dummy. They gain comfort from touching and sucking on the dummy and like other attachment objects, dummies can help young children manage everyday stress in their lives.

 

However there comes a time when the dummy has to go. Dummy use:

  • Increases the chance of dental problems later in childhood – for example, the problem of a child’s teeth growing out of line. The British Dental Health Foundation discourages the long-term use of dummies or thumb sucking as both could result in problems as the teeth grow and develop, particularly when their permanent teeth are coming through

  • May affect a child’s language development as it may restrict the mouth movements needed for speech. Children who suck dummies through the day make fewer sounds, gain less experience of using their voices, and hear less language from adults around them.

Your child probably won’t find it easy to give up their dummy. So if you feel it’s time for it to go, a gradual approach is the fairest and easiest way.

Here are a few things you can do before you begin to reduce your child’s dummy use:

  • Take some pressure off by reminding yourself that sucking a dummy never becomes a lifelong habit. Many children will stop using a dummy by themselves.

  • Choose your timing. A period of change or stress for you or your child might not be a good time to give up.

  • Talk to your child about giving up the dummy, if your child is old enough to understand.

When you and your child are ready to begin, try these ideas:

  • Try using the dummy less for comforting during the day. One way to do this is to put the dummy away in a special spot, then get it out only as part of the sleep routine. This will help this process go faster.

  • Limit dummy use to certain times and places – for example, the car or cot. This gives your child a chance to get used to being without the dummy.

  • Gradually use the dummy less and less when re-settling your child during the night. For example, give the dummy to your child every second time he cries in the night on day two, then every third time on day three, and so on.

 

Once your child is coping for longer periods without the dummy, set a time and date – then take away the dummy. These ideas might help:

  • Mark the occasion of becoming dummy free with a celebration or special reward.

  • Try not to turn back. No matter how well you’ve prepared your child for this change, expect some discomfort and some protest.

 

It might be easier and more fun to help your child do something special with their dummy such as hanging it on a tree for fairies to give to other children who don’t have a dummy or putting it in the bird feeder for the baby birds. This way, if your child asks for it back, you can tell them that you don’t have it any more. Just remember to throw all the dummies away. You don’t want your child to find the dummy they think the fairies have!

Great books to support the transition:

Ben gives up his Dummy by Jenny Album

A picture book that is designed for children who are struggling to give up their Dummies.

Bea gives up her Dummy by Jenny Album

A picture book that is designed for children who are struggling to give up their Dummies.

The last Noo-Noo by Gill Murphy

This multi-award winning book captures the familiar dilemma of how to help a child let go of their Dummy.

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Horsted Keynes Preschool

The Village Hall, The Green

Horsted Keynes, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 7AP